Port argues case for extra rail capacity

UNLESS it is dualled, the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line will soon reach capacity, a public inquiry has been told.

UNLESS it is dualled, the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line will soon reach capacity, a public inquiry has been told.

At present 25 trains go in and out of Britain's biggest port every day - the maximum the track can take - and last year they carried 379,000 containers, 23 per cent of the port's throughput.

If all those trains are fully laden, the terminals' capacity would be 425,000 boxes.

Felixstowe port development director Andrew Harston said dualling part of the rail line and expanding Ipswich marshalling yard would allow another 13 trains each way every day.

By 2023 the port would then expect 38 trains each-way per day carrying 1.1million standard-sized boxes a year - 26pc of the throughput of the port, which would by then have been expanded in a £240million project.

Without the expansion - which can only happen if the line is dualled - business could be lost to foreign ports and there would be great harm to the UK economy.

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There was a “pressing need” for more deepwater container quays in Britain and Felixstowe was in a key position to help meet that need, the inquiry heard.

The £46.6m dualling project would take around 300,000 lorries off the A14 every year.

Mr Hartson said the port had a policy of encouraging more cargo to go by rail and the amount had risen from 200,000 boxes in 1997 to 379,000 last year and the number of trains from 16 to 25.

“The proposed length of track is sufficient to enable a number of flighted trains to pass each other while moving,” he said.

“If Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company were not concerned about the impact of standing trains on the local environment, then a shorter, dualled loop would have created some capacity at a significantly reduced cost.”

There have been 60 objections to the dualling.

The inquiry continues.

What do you think of the dualling project? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.

factfile: What the project will involve . . .

Four-and-a-half miles of the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line will be dualled between Trimley Station and Potters Hole, just past the new Levington bridge.

Some footpaths may be diverted, the Croft foot crossing and Gun Lane level crossing closed forever, and a new road junction built at Grimston Lane-Thorpe Lane.

New sidings will be built at Ipswich station to cater for longer freight trains of 24 wagons.

Twelve level crossings and foot crossings will be affected - most will need to be widened because of the extra track.